Once a rather straightforward, if particularly skilled and melodic, stoner-rock band, Elder have since evolved into something much more multifaceted and unclassifiable. On 2015's creative breakthrough Lore, the Massachusetts-bred dragonauts truly achieved liftoff, exploring the cosmic sounds of post prog and space rock, and on the experimental 2019 EP The Gold & Silver Sessions, they temporarily put aside the big riffs to indulge their softer, sparser side. The group's expanding palette — which is on full display on the quartet's forthcoming new LP, Omens, due out April 24th and available for pre-order via Bandcamp — has a lot to do with the band members' omnivorous listening habits, and with that in mind, we caught up with Elder's Nick DiSalvo (guitars, vocals, keyboards) to find out what five formative albums have most shaped him as a musician. Yes, he loves Sleep's Dopesmoker just like the rest of us, but his picks are a little further off the beaten path.
I think I was introduced to this record by one of my oldest friends — and long-running Elder artist — Adrian Dexter, who exposed me to a lot of different music when we were younger. This album resonated with me immediately because of its ability to tell a story without words and evoke such beautiful atmospheres. Bo Hansson was a pioneer of a unique strand of psychedelic music that for some reason always resonated more with me than the Pink Floyds and Jimi Hendrixes. The story behind this album also fed my fantasies of holing up on a wooded island and making a record [which is] still on the bucket list.
I spent the latter end of my teenage years listening to stoner rock almost exclusively. Kyuss, Electric Wizard, Fu Manchu, Sleep, Church of Misery, etc. Colour Haze blew my mind when I heard them for the first time in this period. I understood that riff + fuzz + loud = heavy, but Colour Haze redefined the equation for me with incredible melodies, dynamics, and musical prowess. This record inspired me to really learn how to play a guitar, not just power chords. Also, the idea that music this happy-sounding could be so heavy just didn't occur to me before this record.
This is one of those records where I remember exactly where I was when I heard it. My older brother had given me some music to take along for a week long trip I was taking with a school club — I put Ta Det Lugnt on at the airport on my iPod and didn't stop listening to it for the entire week. I had considered myself a metalhead for much of my teenage years, but when I heard Dungen uniting psych rock, jazz and Swedish folk, my world immediately changed and all that metal felt flat and lifeless in comparison. Still one of my favorite bands and records of all time!
I went through many phases of music in my "developmental years," i.e. when I was a teenage wiener. Growing up in the aughts in New England, I was caught up in punk and hardcore for a good minute. What quickly became more fascinating, however, was seeing where all those punks did when they grew up, how Ian Mackaye went from Minor Threat to Fugazi, and how hardcore went to emo. Somewhere further down this wormhole, I stumbled upon Low, Red House Painters and Idaho. There's always been something about the raw emotionality of Idaho that got me, not to mention Jeff Martin's unique chord progressions and exploration of sounds. This record is just solid gold. Fifteen-year-old pseudo-punk me was confused when I loved it, but it didn't stop me from doing so.
Before I really dove into progressive rock, Motorpsycho was my back door to the genre. After finishing high school, I spent an extra year as an exchange student in a small town in Germany, using the opportunity to finally go to the legendary Roadburn festival. This was my first European festival experience and [my] introduction to a scene on a continent that would later become my permanent home. Motorpsycho had just released Little Lucid Moments the year before, and though they didn't play the festival, there was plenty of buzz about the band. When I finally got my hands on the record, I was captivated: For the first time, I heard a 20-minute song full of unpredictable twists and turns, expertly composed, never getting boring for a moment. I listened to [Sleep's] Dopesmoker plenty of times and appreciated what I felt was length for effect, but this felt like length with purpose. This is my desert island band and my desert island record No. 1 — the single album that has been the biggest influence on my own musical career.